Posts Tagged ‘collections australia network’

VJ Sustenance mixes digitised collection @Allsorts Online, December 1

Video jockey Lynne Sanderson, aka VJ Sustenance, will mix the Australian Network for Art and Technology (ANAT) collection at the Allsorts Online Forum on December 1, demonstrating yet another application for digitised collections. The Adelaide-based artist will draw links between art and technology during the Allsorts Online Forum wrap-up party by mashing-up the digital images and responding to the classic 19th Century library interior. The event will be set in the beautiful late-Victorian Mortlock Chamber at the State Library of South Australia. Lynne gives a little insight into the art of a video jockey and her approach to the cultural heritage collection.



What style of work do you make as a video jockey? What influences your own artwork?
My visual style is primarily photographic. I used layered and effected video concentrating on movement and tempo. I shoot most of the video that I use. The footage could be either something I shot on the street in Berlin or Adelaide or models shot in a controlled studio situation. Graphical elements also appear in my mixes, blended and affected throughout the mix. Sometimes I use royalty free archival footage. I have a large bank of loops that I draw from.

Often I will shift between thematic frameworks, changing with shifts in aspects of the music. I have recently been doing audiovisual performances with my physical controller the v-tar. It looks like a flying v guitar and it is custom built so that I can trigger audio and visual on cue, without sitting at a computer. This has allowed me to start experimenting with the performative aspect of my work.

There are many influences on my artwork. From other audiovisual artists such as Ryoji Ikeda, Severed Heads and Hexstatic to music video and movies to small things such as a particular movement or motion or something I might see happen in the street. I also take a lot of inspiration being immersed in music and sound. Then there are the unexplained accidents that can occur when I am playing with the software patches I have created. I am also highly influenced by the action of play.


A rear screen projector will be set-up in the Mortlock Chamber, at the State Library of South Australia, where VJ Lynne Sanderson will mix ANAT’s collection.

Your background is installation art, how did you move into vjing?
I have always done both… I actually started my career in the early 1990s showing slides (a kind of early vjing before the technology was ready) with a techno band. It was after that that I started exhibiting my artwork in galleries and then moved into installation works. I was still developing my club video works in parallel to the gallery works. I enjoy showing my work to different cross-sections of people. I get a different feedback from playing live than from installing an artwork in a gallery. Ultimately though, I like to involve others in my artistic process, whether it is people playing with my installations or enjoying a beat driven visual mix.


Allsorts Online and CAN is looking forward to watching you mix part of the Australian Network for Art and Technology (ANAT) collection on December 1 at the State Library of South Australia. How will you approach this project?
I have been given some moving images from ANAT’s collection. These have been cut up… and I am experimenting with manipulating them live. I am interested to see what comes out after they go through my software and are re-contextualised.

What type of material will you be mixing? What idea will you try to convey as you mash-up the work?
I will be mixing a selection of ANAT’s archive over a period of years. This will include some documentation of workshops that they have run and artists moving image works that have been included in their magazine Filter. There will also be some documentation of artists’ installations.

I enjoy improvising when I vj… So I will be listening to the music and mixing the works together with a certain tempo and motion. I will play with the material and see what happens. Ideas will be revealed.

VJ Sustenance @ Persian Garden Adelaide Festival 2006 from vj sustenance on Vimeo.

What potential do you see for your own work as cultural heritage organisations digitise more of their collections?
This the first time I have mixed other artists works. It is a bit of a different mindset than using my own video footage and animations. In the process of working on the project, I see a lot of potential to have access to rare early film footage or images. I have been wondering what would happen if you merged/mashed two or more famous artists works together. It poses the question.. Are you creating a new artwork from doing this?


As the world digitises to preserve and share, will you start using new material that you had not considered before (ie CCTV footage, plates from rare illustrated books)?
Possibly… it depends on what sort of access is granted to use these artworks and what I might be working on conceptually.

What opportunities do you see for collecting institutions in using digitised material?
It would be great to be an artist–in-residence in a cultural institution and have access to various famous works to create something new from something old.



Allsorts Online: the collecting sector, academia, the arts and the media
Event: Allsorts Online Forum
Date: December 1
Venue: State Library of South Australia, Adelaide
Cost: Free
Time: 8.30am – 5pm + Drinks
Registration: http://www.surveygizmo.com/s/189943/canforum

Event: Allsorts Online Masterclasses
Date: December 2
Venue: Australian Network for Art and Technology (ANAT) and the Royal Institution of Australia (RiAus)
Cost: $250 per 3-hour session
Time: 9am – Noon, 1pm – 4pm
Registration: http://www.surveygizmo.com/s/189943/canforum

Image caption: High heeled shoe on tricycle, `Liquorice Allsorts’, designed by Ross Wallace, used in `Parade of Icons’ Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Closing Ceremony, Sydney 2000. Collection: Powerhouse Museum, Sydney. Part of the Sydney 2000 Games Collection. Gift of the New South Wales Government, 2001.

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Calculating the impact of your online collection: Ingrid Mason (CAN)

How do you calculate the impact of your collection online? CAN’s National Project Manager Ingrid Mason will be discussing this topic at the Allsorts Online Masterclasses in Adelaide on December 2. This YouTube video offers a little taste of what is to come.



Masterclasses
A series of masterclasses for curators, writers, artists, online producers and education specialists to learn and share insights and skills for work on the Web. The masterclasses cater for professionals from the collecting sector, academia, the arts, and media who want an injection of knowledge and inspiration in making collection material publicly accessible and usable and to build up community interest and participation in digital ventures. Please register now.

Session 1: Arts as a Living Culture (Gavin Artz, ANAT and Fee Plumley, Australia Council)
Session 2: Cultural Digital Storytelling (Gavin Bannerman, SLQ)
Session 3: Community Building with Social Media Tools (Ellen Forsyth, SLNSW)
Session 4: Collections Online: Ideas and Issues (Ingrid Mason, CAN)

Event: Allsorts Online Masterclasses
Date: December 2
Venue: Australian Network for Art and Technology (ANAT) and the Royal Institution of Australia (RiAus)
Cost: $250 per 3-hour session
Time: 9am – Noon, 1pm – 4pm

Registration: Register now
For more information, click here

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Mentoring digital media projects: Chris Winter (ABC)



ABC Innovation ’s Chris Winter is at XMedia Lab, Amsterdam, this week mentoring the development of future digital public media projects. This is where some of the most cutting edge work is developed. Chris will be speaking at the Allsorts Online forum in Adelaide on December 1. He will be speaking about the exciting new projects ABC Innovation is working on as well as giving insights on Sydney Sidetracks and Gallipoli.

What is your role at the ABC?
I have been involved in a number of projects over the last few years – managing ABC2 from launch in 2005 until mid 2007, the ABC mobile election & news application in 2007/2008, Sydney Sidetracks, delivered to online and mobile platforms in 2008 (and pleasingly winning some commendations and an award along the way), an oversight and mentoring role on a number of other projects – ABC Earth, ABC FORA, ABC Mobile (2009), the Big Diary — and now more and more developing and managing relationships with outside bodies that are pertinent to our work – universities, research organisations, museums and other collections (as a result of the Sidetracks project), government (state and federal) and helping organise for staff presentations by interesting visitors, as well as internal events promoting learning, discussion and collaboration – a day for the ABC’s web developers for example, held early this year.

What is the focus of this years’s XMedia Lab in Amsterdam – XML Amsterdam “Public Media”?
The general themes are articulated at XMedia Lab. I have chosen to focus on interaction and audience behaviours, and how the latter have affected our work and our strategies.

XMedia Lab is designed to assist people to get their own digital media ideas successfully to market. How does your role at the ABC support this idea?
XMediaLab is a golden opportunity for people seeking feedback and advice about digital media projects at various stages of development. Getting to market may indeed mean a commercial outcome, or it may simply mean an idea is on its way to realisation and publication. Helping any project along this path is completely consistent with my role at the ABC, and has the added benefit of improving my skills, knowledge and experience through exposure to both the other mentors and the project teams.

Over the years quite non-commercial ABC projects have benefitted from the hothouse of an XMediaLab and exposure to experienced media workers who may bring a completely new and refreshing point of view – not only through their formal presentations, but through the intense one on one sessions in the lab.

Do you see a role for collecting institutions within public broadcasters’ multi-channel programming? Is there an example where there is happening in other countries?
Absolutely – and by the time I return from my trip, I may have a more detailed answer for you! Perhaps not a whole channel though …

How could collecting institutions, as not-for-profit entities, apply the principles of “commercialising digtial media ideas” to their own operations?
My interest in collections so far has been confined to finding reasons and opportunities to give often hidden treasures an airing – again Sidetracks is one such example, a reminder of past places, people and events, and so too is Gallipoli, although much more focused of course – without any thought of making money. Interestingly, as the Powerhouse has discovered, making some of a collection more accessible under a Creative Commons licence – in other words, in a limited sense, for free – has not affected their ability to make money from the collection. However, one hopes that more and more examples of a collection become more and more easily browseable – making them more easily appreciated and acquirable. Of course I am talking of images here, rather than three-dimensional physical objects.

To what extent should publicly-funded cultural bodies be involved in developing digital media projects that competes alongside commercial entertainment in the marketplace?
Many publicly-funded cultural bodies are the homes of wonderful stories – the challenge is either getting them out so they can be enjoyed in places other than dark rooms in far away cities, or presented in such a way that word of mouth makes an exhibition a “must see” – perhaps ACMI’s new display area is one such example. Or its Mediatheque which allows rights-fraught material to be seen without breaking the law. Perhaps one day the three-dimensional objects that populate much of the real estate in museums can be enjoyed remotely and cleverly without losing any of their “presence”. After all, what’s important about a museum is not the four walls, but what its collections stand for and the staff who understand their importance and the stories that surround them. If solving these problems distracts people from “commercial entertainment” or even makes money, that’s fine with me. The ABC is publicly-funded, and largely not-for-profit, yet it is allowed to generate income from goods associated with its charter activities – although of course, not everyone is necessarily happy about that!

As an XMedia Lab mentor, what message will you be sending out to those people travelling to Amsterdam?
I’m not sure exactly who these people will be, and I don’t really have a single message – but what’s important to me about a place like the ABC are the wonderful storytellers who work there – whether the stories are real or made up – and whether we can keep a grip on how important it is to reach everyone with those stories – regardless of who they are, where they live, when they choose to become absorbed in our stories, what device they choose to use – and to ENGAGE them. Alarming for some perhaps is the reality that we are becoming curators as well as creators.



Event: Allsorts Online Forum
Date: December 1
Venue: State Library of South Australia, Adelaide
Cost: Free
Time: 8.30am – 5pm + Drinks
Registration: http://www.surveygizmo.com/s/189943/canforum

Event: Allsorts Online Masterclasses
Date: December 2
Venue: Australian Network for Art and Technology (ANAT) and the Royal Institution of Australia (RiAus)
Cost: $250 per 3-hour session
Time: 9am – Noon, 1pm – 4pm
Registration: http://www.surveygizmo.com/s/189943/canforum

Image caption: High heeled shoe on tricycle, `Liquorice Allsorts’, designed by Ross Wallace, used in `Parade of Icons’ Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Closing Ceremony, Sydney 2000. Collection: Powerhouse Museum, Sydney. Part of the Sydney 2000 Games Collection. Gift of the New South Wales Government, 2001.

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Digital Folk Art – A whole new world of art that is not art: Gavin Artz


Gavin Artz is finding business models for artists working in the digital arena. His previous career saw him working with corporate giants, now he is the chief executive at the Australian Network for Art and Technology (ANAT). As he undertakes his MBA exploring the relationships between creativity and business management, the arts community has someone looking after its financial future. Gavin will be delivering a session at the Allsorts Online Masterclasses in Adelaide on December 2.

“In all affairs it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.” – Bertrand Russell (1872 – 1970)

Digital folk art comes from open source technologies and associated open distribution channels and raises many questions for the arts.

The price of technology has fallen, often to nothing, as access to technology and technological know how has exploded. Whole open source industries offer easy to use, powerful, creative tools that build digital communities of shared creative meaning. There is a digital culture that creates and distributes online, that reflects on the world and represents it to a community ready to digest.

This is a vibrant, living, creative culture and just as folk art is a daily response to the world people live in, decorating and telling stories on everyday objects, this digital folk art does the same. As with some folk art, digital folk art can be seen as kitsch, amusing and distracting decoration; some also can be seen as powerful and influential art. With the multitude of work created only a small proportion maybe seen as art, the people who create it and experience it don’t care what it is called, they don’t care about the art world; they live and respond to a bigger world, they live art.

If we live art, if our daily lives engage continually with artistic expression, do we in a modern western society have the capacity to recognise such a creative culture as art?



Digital folk art benefits from the change in economic models that the digital era has ushered in. The digital world encourages abundance (Anderson 2006), server costs are negligible, access and software are cheap or free. All work can be made available and no one person is mediating your experience. No one is limiting access to the full breadth of art and culture.

Galleries, museums and exhibitors are at a crossroads. These organisations have traditionally operated within the economics of scarcity; limited wall space, limited storage space. The digital world does not work on that model. The digital world does not need to show work in a building and you don’t have to leave your daily life to experience it.

*What spaces will be the environments in which to have an arts experience?
*Will we know we are having an arts experience?
*Do we need to know that we are having an art experience?
*What will be called art and what work should be preserved?
*Do digital artists want work preserved?
*Is there a role for curators when scarce resources no longer need to be allocated?
*How do artists make a living when it is difficult to show work and very difficult to sell work?

We are on the eve of a shift to a different concept of artistic creative culture. We are moving to a conception of the arts that does not just have its domain as a cultural activity, but one where this creativity is central to culture, community and the economy. This new conception of a creative culture is full of opportunity not only for artists, but all citizens. However, to get to these opportunities we need to review concepts we have long taken for granted.

Gavin Artz will be presenting one of the four masterclasses CAN, the Royal Institution of Australia and the Australian Network for Arts and Technology are running on December 2. Gavin’s intensive workshop will cover the issues facing artists and galleries as they enter the online world to promote artworks and collections. He will be running the classes with Australia Council Digital Programs Officer Fee Plumley. With just 10 people in the three-hour workshop, there will be ample opportunity to draw on their wealth of knowledge and experience.



Event: Allsorts Online Forum
Date: December 1
Venue: State Library of South Australia, Adelaide
Cost: Free
Time: 8.30am – 5pm + Drinks
Registration: http://www.surveygizmo.com/s/189943/canforum

Event: Allsorts Online Masterclasses
Date: December 2
Venue: Australian Network for Art and Technology (ANAT) and the Royal Institution of Australia (RiAus)
Cost: $250 per 3-hour session
Time: 9am – Noon, 1pm – 4pm
Registration: http://www.surveygizmo.com/s/189943/canforum

Image caption: High heeled shoe on tricycle, `Liquorice Allsorts’, designed by Ross Wallace, used in `Parade of Icons’ Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Closing Ceremony, Sydney 2000. Collection: Powerhouse Museum, Sydney. Part of the Sydney 2000 Games Collection. Gift of the New South Wales Government, 2001.

Anderson C. 2006, “Long Tail, The, Revised and Updated Edition: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More”. Hyperion, New York.

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National Portrait Gallery (UK) vs Wikipedia: Jessica Coates

Wikipedia uploaded part of the National Portrait Gallery, UK’s online collection to its own Wikimedia Commons website. It is every art gallery’s greatest fear. Now that it has happened, Creative Commons Clinic Project Manager Jessica Coates explains how the test case is being dealt with.

If you’re of a copyright bent, you may have notice the discussion lately surrounding a legal dispute between UK’s National Portrait Gallery (NPG) and Wikipedia.

For those who haven’t heard, on 10 July Wikipedia contributor Derrick Coetzee received a threat of legal action from the NPG relating to Coeztee’s taking of more than 3300 Zoomify images of public domain paintings from the NPG’s website, which he then uploaded to Wikimedia Commons. The NPG claims copyright in the images, which are essentially high resolution digital preservation copies of the paintings, and alleges that by posting them to Wikimedia Commons Coetzee has infringed not only this copyright, but also a number of other legal rights relating to the works.

In responding to the allegations, the Electronic Frontiers Foundation (EFF) (which is representing Coetzee) have focused on the jurisdictional issues of the case ie whether Coeztee’s actions should be judged under US or UK law. There are also a number of other legal questions that arise in relation to the case, such whether Coetzee illegally circumvented the Zoomify copy protection on the works.



But what jumped out at me (and most readers judging by the online discussion) is the NPG’s claim of copyright in its digital copies of public domain paintings. Is it really true that if I get a work that is in the public domain – say, the Mona Lisa – and take a high quality scan of it, I have created a whole new work that attracts copyright protection?

As the EFF points out in their article on the case, it is fairly clear that under US law such images would not be protected by copyright. The US courts considered the application of copyright to reproductions of public domain material in Bridgeman v Corel and found that copyright does not subsist in ‘slavish copies’ (ie that seek to exactly replicate the original) of public domain works unless there is some level of originality (eg in the construction or composition) that differentiates the copy from the original work – mere technical skill and effort is not enough. So my photograph of my friend standing in front of the Mona Lisa is protected, but my photocopy or scan is not.

The lawyers for the NPG argue that UK law goes in the opposite direction – or at least that Bridgeman v Corel doesn’t apply in the UK, that there are no relevant local precedents and that legal opinion is against the US case law. Andres Guadamuz from the University of Edinburgh argues in this blog post that the question isn’t as straight forward as the NPG lawyers contend. But it is certainly true that the requirement of ‘originality’ that is the basis of the US decision doesn’t apply in the UK, with British courts being far more willing to find a work is protected by copyright based on skill or effort alone.

So what is our position here in Australia? Unclear. I have to admit, I (and I think most of the local copyright community) had thought that the Bridgeman v Corel rule applied here, and hence such material wasn’t protected. However, Australia’s approach to originality has traditionally been more aligned with the UK than the US. In fact, the leading Australian case on the issue (Telstra v Desktop Marketing) arguably sets the bar even lower by finding that a telephone book was original based almost purely on the level of effort required to put it together. On the other hand, in the Ice TV case decided earlier this year the High Court seemed to suggest that they did not support the low originality test set by Desktop Marketing – although their comments were only in passing, and the case was decided on another issue.

This doesn’t mean that Desktop Marketing is the end of the matter in Australia. After all, it was looking at a text-based work which, in anyone’s judgement, was an entirely new product – not a photograph that is merely intended to be a facsimile of an existing work. It turns out Australia doesn’t really have a lot of case law about subsistence of copyright in photographs or verbatim copies (at least as far as I can see). IP commentator Rickertson points out that because the Copyright Act says that the owner of copyright is the person who took the photo, without requiring any particular artistic or intellectual merit, an argument can be made that just pressing the button is enough to invoke copyright protection. But, as Rickertson also points out, this logic would lead to the illogical position where every individual photocopy received separate copyright protection.

Until we actually have a case on point in Australia, it seems unlikely we’ll have a legal answer. So the question we need to ask ourselves is which precedent do we want to follow? If someone’s intention is to copy something exactly, should we be protecting the copy? Or do we want to take the direction of the US and require some extra level of creativity?

Of course, this question isn’t simple. After all, the NPG spent a lot of money digitising the paintings, which they (presumably) hope to recoup by selling high resolution copies. If anyone can copy high quality files once they’re put online, will that deter galleries from digitising or providing access to their works in the future? On the other hand, should publicly funded institutions be using legal technicalities to restrict access to material in their collections, even after copyright has expired?

My personal opinion is that I don’t think it would be good for Australia to go down this route. Many copyright experts are already concerned about the low level of originality required by Australian law, and how it is stifling innovation by stopping people from making use of public information and data. Do we really want to extend this drawback to public domain works?

After all, the digital era has changed how people create and use copyright material. Remix and mash up are now not only genuine art forms, they’re a standard means of communication for an entire generation. We all complain about piracy, but can we really blame the pirates if we don’t give artists, students and innovators something they can legally use, if we tell them that even century old paintings are out of bounds?

The more we extend copyright – whether by legislative amendment, contractual restrictions or, in this case, judicial interpretation – the more we reduce the pool of material that we are all free to use. Is it really a good idea to restrict the resources available to the many for the sake of the benefit of a few?


High heeled shoe on tricycle, `Liquorice Allsorts’, designed by Ross Wallace, used in `Parade of Icons’ Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Closing Ceremony, Sydney 2000. Collection: Powerhouse Museum, Sydney. Part of the Sydney 2000 Games Collection. Gift of the New South Wales Government, 2001.

Jessica Coates will be presenting a paper at CAN’s Allsorts Online forum in Adelaide on December 1. The one day free event will be a dynamic discussion on how collecting institutions can share content online. Jessica’s role in promoting Creative Commons licences is central to the success of online collections and telling stories about the nation’s cultural heritage. On Wednesday December 2, CAN is teaming up with the Australian Network of Art and Technology (ANAT) and the Royal Institution of Australia to host four masterclasses. By limiting the classes to 10 participants, there is an opportunity to leave the class with a personalised experience and an action plan.

Event: Allsorts Online Forum
Date: December 1
Venue: State Library of South Australia, Adelaide
Cost: Free
Time: 8.30am – 5pm + Drinks
Registration: http://www.surveygizmo.com/s/189943/canforum

Event: Allsorts Online Masterclasses
Date: December 2
Venue: Australian Network of Art and Technology (ANAT) and the Royal Institution of Australia (RiAus)
Cost: $250 per session
Time: 9am – Noon and 1pm – 4pm
Registration: http://www.surveygizmo.com/s/189943/canforum


Jessica has requested this article is published under the attribution non-commercial share-alike Creative Commons licence.

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Revealing the Arts: a snapshot


The biggest problem the arts community faces is that it is not part of the political or social agenda, the head of ABC TV Kim Dalton said at the Revealing the Arts conference yesterday. He expressed his frustration at how the sector was not being taken seriously while the Federal Government pledged $4.7 billion to the National Broadband Network, $22 billion in “nation building infrastructure spending” and $3.1 billion over four years on innovation. Mr Dalton invited all arts organisations to work with the ABC and the Australia Council to lobby the Government and put the arts back on the agenda.

Mr Dalton saw the ABC as a laboratory for creative projects. It has the branding and platforms to be the ideal partner for creating new work and attracting new audiences. He believed the feeling in the room was that there finally was an acceptance of the digital era as a platform in its own right rather than it just being a marketing tool. The ABC was ready to collaborate and partner with the arts community to explore this new medium.

The ABC and Australia Council hosted Revealing the Arts to enable the arts community to engage in ‘creative conversations and solutions for the digital era’. The two-day conference embraced a Web 2.0 philosophy with host and ABC journalist Virginia Trioli involving the audience and Twitterers in a dialogue with panellists after each keynote speaker’s address. A live webcast encouraged the public to answer questions ranging from ‘Show Me Your Arts’, ‘Show Me How’, ‘Who owns Your Arts’, ‘Get ‘Em While They’re Young’ and ‘Show Me the Money’.

Michael Lynch, who has just returned from an eight year reign over the South Bank Centre theatre venues in London, and is now an ABC board director, says it is time for arts institutions to engage differently with governments. No longer can they rely on governments to come up with legislation and funding. The arts need to be more proactive and ‘push and pull governments to work for arts institutions’.

Wollongong University Head of Music and Drama Sarah Miller believed that it was time to build relationships across all platforms and ‘give up the silos’. Physical TV co-founder Richard James Allen agreed it was time for traditional and new media to be seen as their own categories and and to allow the bridge between both to have a place as well.

After intensive and often heated discussion around the lack of representation of artists in the room, whether there should be open-access or copyright is a legitimate income stream, the conference concluded with Australia Council CEO Kathy Keele and Mr Dalton drafting a to do list they could work on together to create a better environment for artists to work in the digital era.

The three main themes discussed througout Revealing the Arts were:
• Co-operation and partnership
• Sharing rights and access
• Digital world exists in own right with own set of values and potential

As the conversation invariably came back to the issue of rights, Ms Keele believed the Australia Council and its arts community needed to work to create better conditions for artists working in the digital era. How can the public access the nation’s archives and collections? Can an artist use these archives in their artwork? How do artists’s protect themselves? Rights training for arts organsations and fostering stronger relationships between arts organisations and artists was also a priority.

In an Australian first, the ABC launched its raw news footage of the Brisbane Zombie Walk under a Creative Commons licence onto its collaborative website Pool. The ABC has embraced the Govt 2.0 movement of sharing its resources by licensing its raw news footage under a Creative Commons licence.

The ABC has also just launched its arts portal ABC Arts.

Sarah Rhodes

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Lawrence Hargrave: Digital storytelling using archives

CAN created this digital story ‘Lawrence Hargrave – Pioneer, Inventor, Adventurer’ for the archivists, at the Voyaging Together conference in Brisbane last week, as an alternate ways to present collection material. The six minute video maps material primarily from the Powerhouse Museum archives. It shows that while Lawrence Hargrave spent much of his time in Sydney developing the underlying principles used in aviation today, he corresponded with the cultural elite from Europe to North America. Google Earth helps tell a multi-layered story about Hargrave – a gentleman and brilliant scientist whose public life was firmly set within the Republic of Letters and a private man whose senstitive and passionate personality caused him to be described by Ruth Park in The Companion Guide to Sydney (1973) as ‘the crank with a kite’.



Bringing a letter to life by placing it in the context of a digital story, alongside photographs and objects from other collections, sparked a lot of interest. Archivists and digital storytellers both research and analyse content but take very different paths in the interpretive process.

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What I have learnt from creating Culture Victoria: Eleanor Whitworth

Arts Victoria Senior Arts Officer Eleanor Whitworth talks about how Culture Victoria came into being, its successes and failures and what she would differently next time.

The Culture Victoria (CV) website is a space where cultural content from venues across Victoria are brought together to provide an immersive and focused entry point to Victorian collections using rich media. The objectives we set for CV are to: showcase the collections of Victorian cultural organisations; tell stories about Victorian communities and cultural collections; expose behind-the-scenes activities that the public does not usually get to see; and promote visitation to stakeholder websites.



The audiences we set out to target are: the education sector (specifically teachers and students accessing the Victorian education portal FUSE; Victorians and tourists interested in Victorian culture, community, and cultural collections; and communities of interest (e.g. Antarctica).

On the collaborative process CV was a group effort – from inception to production. It arose out of the Victorian Cultural Network (VCN) project, a collaborative partnership between Victoria’s major cultural organisations: the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Museum Victoria, National Gallery of Victoria, State Library of Victoria, The Arts Centre, and Federation Square, facilitated by Arts Victoria. The VCN commenced in 2003. We began planning CV in 2004, and established a collaborative working structure where all VCN members participated, and some took a ‘lead agency’ role for the delivery of specific production elements (e.g. design and development of the content management system). It was inspiring to have a group of highly skilled participants from across the agencies working together. It did, however, soon become clear that this complex project would become an unwieldy beast if it were not reigned in. Reflecting on the collaborative process brings a quote from Karl Kraus to mind: “Democracy means the permission to be everybody’s slave.” Whilst this is a cheeky exaggeration, we did find that in the context of project delivery some centralised management was essential for a successful outcome, and we subsequently engaged a project manager.


Arts Victoria, Senior Arts Officer, Eleanor Whitworth at the OBJECTS FACES PLACES exhibition currently on display in the Arts Victoria foyer.

On access, stories, and storytelling
The underlying purpose of CV is to increase access to Victorian cultural collections. ‘Access’ comes in many forms – from exposure of raw data, to sharing the knowledge and expertise of curators and artists.

When we commenced planning CV, broadband was rolling out across the globe and it was agreed that CV would focus on media rich content (video and high resolution images) to provide an immersive experience for the user.

It was also agreed that CV content would be ‘story-centric’, where the story provides a contextual narrative connecting collection assets and shedding light on some aspect of Victorian culture, heritage or art. The stories are the engagement point for the public, each one forming a mini virtual exhibition where the aggregation of content from different collection domains provides the user with a multi-faceted experience of a particular topic.

A content management system (CMS) was designed with a ‘Story Builder’ function (using EpiServer). In the Story Builder, a story home page is created. Objects related to the story are created separately and attached to the story. Objects can be contributed by multiple authorised organisations. For example, William Barak includes content from the Koorie Heritage Trust, the National Gallery of Victoria, and the State Library of Victoria, creating a picture of Barak the man, his legacy, and Wurundjeri culture.

The story includes:
• A video of Joy Wandin Murphy discussing her family relationship with Barak, life on Coranderrk, and the cultural meaning of his works;
• A video of Nerissa Broben, Senior Curator at the Koori Heritage Trust, showing the unexpected findings of conservation work on one of Barak’s paintings, and talking about Barak’s use of traditional and contemporary tools;
• A video of Judy Williams, Librarian at the Koori Heritage Trust, talking about Barak’s time as a member of the native police searching for the Kelly Gang;
• A video of Judith Ryan, Senior Curator at the National Gallery of Victoria, talking about Barak’s position within the State collection, how his work came to be collected, his role as an innovator, and the legacy of Coranderrk as the first Aboriginal arts centre;
• Sixteen high resolution images from the three contributing organisations.

The CMS also enables management of intellectual property rights, and for organisations to attach branding to their content. The initial tranche of CV content was funded through the VCN and we engaged a content producer to facilitate and create contributions from VCN members and metro-regional partners (Bendigo Art Gallery, Geelong Performing Arts Centre, Koori Heritage Trust, Mildura Arts Centre, and the West Gippsland Library Corporation). CV stories are presented under a series of themes relevant to Victoria’s history and culture.


2008 Monster Petition Head Project Banner, signed by the Premier of Victoria and the Minister for Women’s Affairs, from Women’s Suffrage.

Each story fulfills at least one of the following:
• Showcases Victorian collections previously unavailable on-line (The Ross Sea Party)
• Shares the expertise of curators and reveals ‘back-of house’ activities (Restoring Shearing the Lambs)
• Reveals the creative process (In My Day)
• Reveals aspects of Victorian communities (Women on Farms, Digital Stories of the Mind and Body, Walhalla: fires, floods and tons of gold)
• Keeps archival material in the public domain (Kylie’s Costumes arose out of the 2004 exhibition at The Arts Centre)
• Celebrates significant events (Women’s Suffrage)

Project partners
During the development process, we worked with Collections Australia Network to develop a database of over 700 Victorian organisations that hold cultural collections.


We also worked with the Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts which made their open search client available to enable us to offer users a search function across the websites of selected cultural organisations.

In hindsight
Some of the key challenges and learning that came out of the project:
a) Given the rate of change of technology, we found that by the time the website was complete a new suite of applications and approaches to online usage had arisen (e.g. Web 2.0 functionality. See Art Babble for a Web 2.0 bigger quasi-equivalent of CV). If we wanted to incorporate these applications we’d have to find more money. As such, if you want the flexibility for your website to adapt to new technologies, it is important to view it as an evolving entity, and to budget accordingly.

b) Another trend occurring alongside the rollout of broadband was the uptake of ‘Good Enough Technology’: cheap and simple tools (such as the Flip) that produce low-fi results which are not only acceptable, but are embraced by the general public. We positioned our production values at the high end, which presents two issues: 1) users need to have the bandwidth to display the content; 2) the expense of producing the media may prohibit smaller organisations from participating. We will continue to assess the trade off between high production values and accessibility, and also look out for middle ground options.
c) The CMS is a valuable shared resource that provides smaller organisations with the opportunity to increase the visibility of their content without investing in the underlying infrastructure. The tool does, however, come at a cost. Creating the content and the metadata is resource intensive, and the benefits of contributing to CV need to justify the time spent. Ultimately, it would be great to have an automated date exchange system in place, but this is outside the scope of our budget. Instead, we are testing and refining the upload process and assessing where support will be best targeted to assist content contributors.

d) Building the CMS presented several challenges. We always intended for CV content to be relevant to education audiences, but when designing the CMS, metadata for the education portal FUSE was not yet confirmed. We went ahead and incorporated standard education metadata fields. It turned out that these fields are not in the format required for FUSE. In hindsight, it would have been easier to wait until the education system was confirmed. That said we’ve also found value in ‘over-building’ the CMS, as it is easier and cheaper to cut it back than to bolt more on.

e) Due to our focus on media rich content, we built the initial version of CV in Flash. We did not sufficiently consider the implications that this would have on the accessibility of the content – both for W3C standards and search engine optimisation. We’ve subsequently rebuilt the front end in HTML, resulting in a dramatic improvement in the visibility of CV content in search engines, as well as the ability for people to link to specific stories.

e) We are currently thinking about the long term sustainability of the website and its content: What do we do post 2011 when the VCN project comes to an end? What is the legacy of CV? Is there value in a centralised CMS? What is the value of a story-centric approach?


Villers-Bretonneux, image courtesy of the Keeper of Public Records, PROV.

Where to from here
Since reducing the amount of Flash in the front end we’ve been able to more accurately track visitation. The improved indexing in search engines is returning over 900 unique visitors a month. This is without any publicity. The statistics are also showing that the media rich content has achieved an immersive experience for users with the ‘average time on site’ peaking at over six minutes and settling at about 3 minutes. We’ll continue to monitor usage and tailor publicity and content accordingly. We’re also continuing to refine the functionality and design of the site, including plans to minimise the remaining Flash wrapping around story content so that individual assets can be indexed, linkages can be made between assets, and videos can be embedded in external sites. We’ll also consider Web 2.0 functionality, such as enabling comments on stories and assets and, budget and copyright issues permitting, enabling users to create their own stories. VCN members continue to add content to CV and we plan to open contributions to organisations across Victoria. We are currently running pilots with the Public Record Office Victoria, The University of Melbourne, and the goldfields region (coordinated by Karlie Hawking out of the Department of Planning and Community Development) to refine the upload and ‘light-touch’ moderation processes (see the Villers-Bretonneux and OBJECTS FACES PLACE stories).

As part of the broader VCN project, we are also looking at federated search functionality for VCN members, and exposing agency APIs. Applications resulting from these projects may well find a home in CV. It is empowering to have a playground, even if it’s a small one!
For more information about CV contact Eleanor.

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‘Now and Then’ wiki launched: Darren Peacock

Web developer Darren Peacock takes CAN Partners behind the scenes to explain what was involved in designing and building the Mallala Now and Then wiki. The innovative community heritage wiki website, launched last week, uses the principles of crowdsourcing to gather material about the small South Australian township of Mallala. This pilot project was developed by the Collections Council of Australia (CCA) and there are plans for it to be rolled out to other towns across the country. Darren tells the CAN community a little bit about how he built the wiki and what he expects to come out of the project.



Mallala is a small township of some 500 people in rural South Australia, with an active group of volunteers running the local museum. The Collection Connections project, funded by the CCA with a grant from the .auda Foundation, worked with the Mallala Museum volunteers to explore new ways of recording, preserving and sharing local history using Web 2.0 approaches and technologies. The objective of the project is to develop a sustainable business model and technology platform to enable small collecting organisations to create and manage participative online heritage projects. The wiki website that has now emerged demonstrates the potential of wiki-based collaboration to create and nurture communities of interest, enliven the presentation of history and develop new information management and knowledge sharing paradigms and practices for small, volunteer-based, collecting organisations. Through this pilot implementation at Mallala, the project aims to investigate the factors which contribute to the success of such online initiatives and to identify those which inhibit or impede its success.

The potential of wikis as knowledge sharing platforms for cultural heritage has been discussed for some time, but we believe this is the first time in Australia such an approach has been used.


Grace Plains Football Team

The Now and Then website was developed on the MediaWiki platform, an open source wiki software which provides the basis for the world’s most famous wiki, Wikipedia. While Wikipedia draws on the efforts of millions of volunteers from around the world, the Now and Then wiki is powered by the efforts and enthusiasm of a small, but growing number of local volunteers. The wiki platform for Now and Then is integrated with content sharing sites Flickr and YouTube, as well as delivering RSS from the museum blog which has been established by the project using the Wordpress tool. Google Maps is used to display content articles in an interactive map that provides a geo-spatial dimension on the area’s history.


Charles Osborne Trounson was promoted from Mounted Counstable to Foot Police in 1885 and worked at Mallala Police Station between until 9 November 1887 and 30 June 1888.

Content in Now and Then is organised into topic based ‘articles’ like Wikipedia. The articles are organised into the categories of places, people, organisations, events and things. Of course, many items provide rich links of association across these categories, which encourages lateral and serendipitous searching across the site.

Registered users of the site can add, edit and comment on the articles within the wiki and discuss them with other users. In this way, the wiki opens up a lively discourse about local history and promotes extensive knowledge sharing and information exchange. Even at this early stage, a much richer picture of the connections amongst local history, heritage and memory is emerging for this community.

The model underpinning Now and Then is highly extensible and can be replicated across any number of other communities. A design decision was made to employ MediaWiki’s semantic extension to ensure that the content created within the Now and Then wiki is available for aggregation and reuse across regions or particular items of interest, such as buildings, collection objects or organisational histories.

The pilot implementation of Now and Then is an action research project, exploring potential applications of Web 2.0 technologies in a volunteer-run collecting organisation. The key design considerations for the project were creating an appropriate business model, effective participation design and long-term sustainability.

<a href=”http://mallala.nowandthen.net.au/index.php?title=Opening_of_Old_Mill”>
Architectural drawings for flour mill, Mallala

So far the Now and Then site has been well received within the local community and is generating high levels of interest and participation. The museum is experiencing significant new levels of engagement and receiving more visits and offers of historical images, objects and information.

The success of the initial implementation of Now and Then in Mallala provides confidence and a practical research basis to proceed with further implementations in diverse communities across Australia once further sources of funding are secured.



Darren Peacock, Sweet Technology Pty Ltd
Project Manager, Now and Then
For Collections Council of Australia

If you would like to know more about wikis or the ‘Now and Then’ wiki project email the Collections Council or Darren.

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Not So Innocent Objects: a digital story

Not So Innocent Objects is a five-minute video threading stories about seemingly ordinary objects together to reveal their dark and often emotionally-charged nature. The Collections Australia Network invited Victoria Police Museum Public Programs Curator Kate Spinks to develop a concept based on the theme of ‘crime and punishment’. She came up with the concept Not So Innocent Objects to illustrate that collections often comprise of unremarkable objects with intriguing stories.

 

 

CAN Outreach wanted to start a project that actively worked with institutions of all sizes to upload their collections to the national heritage collection database. Once Kate sent through the working concept and five objects from the Victoria Police Museum collection, CAN invited nine other institutions to submit material. This project enabled CAN to collaborate with galleries, libraries, archives and museums. The video showcases a small selection of the 50 items sourced from the ten organisations. A Google Earth tour will also be made over the next few days to explore the full collection of the not so innocent objects uploaded to CAN. It can be seen on the collectionsaustralia YouTube channel.

 

The participating institutions are the Justice and Police Museum (Sydney), State Records NSW (Sydney), The Rocks Discovery Museum (Sydney), Mackay Regional Library (Queensland), Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery (Launceston), National Gallery of Australia (Canberra), Australian Federal Police Museum (Canberra), Museum of Old and New Art (Hobart), National Museum of Australia (Canberra) and the Victoria Police Museum (Melbourne).

 

CAN made this movie using the free software – iMovie and Google Earth. The Powerhouse Museum’s creative media training suite Thinkspace recorded the voiceover but this can be also done using the free software Audacity and the microphone on your computer.

 

CAN is now working with the National Museum of Australia senior curator Richard Reid in sourcing success stories about Irish professionals in Australia. This project will help the National Museum of Australia source material for its Irish in Australia exhibition to open on St Patrick’s Day 2010. More importantly, it will help institutions of all sizes to promote their own collections. Once the Irish professionals story has been posted on YouTube in early October, institutions participating in the project will be able to embed the video into their own websites or play it in their exhibition space alongside the items they have submitted to CAN.

 

For more information on how to be part of the CAN digital stories projects, email Sarah Rhodes.

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Turning the Global Financial Crisis into an opportunity: National Public Galleries Summit

Raise Your Voice: National Public Galleries Summit, last week in Townsville, asked it’s delegates how the Global Financial Crisis can be turned into an opportunity to achieve sustainability, creativity and resilience.

Robyn Archer gave the keynote address titled Lightness Agility Resilience: clues for survival in the 21st century. The talk was based on an essay she wrote for Essentially Creative, issue 23 of the Griffith Review. She emphasised that this is the time for grants to be redirected from those arts agencies that have become inefficient due to long-term funding to new and dynamic projects.

The closing hypothetical discussed this concept of Resilience in terms of what ideas institutions could take home. The panel Manchester Council Director of Culture Virginia Tandy, head of the Elam School of Fine Arts at the University of AucklandJonathan Mane-Wheoki and art critic John MacDonald, together with summit delegates, offered ideas on that could be taken back on a positive step forward.

The suggestions were:
* During a time when there are a multitude of niche interest groups rather than a general public, putting collections online allows specialised interest communities to form.
* Local councils should stop the restriction of social networking sites like Flickr and YouTube that are valuable tools for reaching new audiences.
* Institutions should look at what is in their collections rather than sourcing material from other organisations.
* Transfer part of a collection to another institution if they have better resources and staff to care for it.
* Promote stories about collections in how they have impacted on people’s lives. For example, Sir Norman Foster decided on his architecture career after finding a book on Frank Lloyd Wright in the library.
* Larger galleries and museums should help regional galleries attract corporate sponsorship so they can offer free admission to traveling exhibitions.
* Recognise that people give money to people not institutions.
* Use a collection creatively to attract donors.
* Network to compensate for a lack of resources.
* Engage with the local community by establishing what they are already interested in.
* Employ people from the local community for front of house roles so they will promote the area.
* Ensure there is career progression for staff.
* Administer ideas quickly and simply. Minimise reports, documentation and committees.
* Be positive.

The summit was a great success, particularly in terms of regional galleries and service providers, artists and curators sharing ideas and forging valuable relationships. Summits like these help build a supportive community of practice. Congratulations Museums and Galleries Services Queensland on putting on a well-run conference with such a warm and friendly atmosphere and thank you Frances Thomson, director of Perc Tucker Gallery, for being a wonderful host. Recordings of the talks will be available on the MGSQ website over the next few weeks. They also have social networking running on their Facebook page.

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CAN Survey results 2009

CAN has been engaging in community consultation to establish the needs of its community and to help plan future outreach activities. Feedback from more than 300 respondents who filled out the CAN Outreach Survey has helped to shape the next year’s strategic plan. This blog post offers a brief summary of the survey report sent to the Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. A full report can be found on the CAN website.

The CAN website is mainly used as a tool to find out what was happening in the sector. People are looking to CAN to create networking opportunities to facilitate learning. The search function was overwhelmingly the biggest issue with the site’s function. The CAN outreach online is widely used to retrieve relevant work-related information. The respondents to the CAN survey already use CAN website and outreach services and they want CAN to continue to provide training and to create networking opportunities to facilitate their learning.


The majority of respondents feel comfortable with technology but are limited in their ability to exploit it effectively, either through internet access issues or lack of skills. If the use of CAN outreach services was limited for respondents, it was because the respondents were not clear on the outreach services offers or because they were financially restricted.

Social media training is in the biggest demand. This response is noteworthy – given that these same respondents report that only 2% of their collections are online and digitised and there is a perceived low capacity within organisations to use these technologies. There is also significant interest in tutorials on how to photograph objects, digitise collections, use metadata, keywords and write catalogue descriptions.

Overall the satisfaction levels with the CAN website and outreach services is high. Demand for support also remains high, so sector needs and expectations persist. CAN is required to enable and further advance the collecting sector’s ability to make their collections available online.

A copy of the survey can be found on the CAN website. For more information about the survey results, email the CAN national project manager Ingrid Mason.

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Winning grants: Barrie Brennan

TEN TIPS FOR WRITING A SUCCESSFUL GRANT APPLICATION


Writing applications is a game. It is a game that I want to win so that my organisation, the Australian Country Music Foundation, receives grant money to prepare statements of significance and carry out preservation. There are rules the funding board sets out for you and then there are the rules you make for yourself.

1. Learn their rules, ie instructions for writing the application. Read them very carefully. Break them and you are probably out in the first round, eg if they limit the application to x pages, do not send x + 1 pages.

2. Draw on the skills of your team. Some are good compiling statistics and finding out about expenditure/income, while others chase up information on the Net.

3. Put the application together is the task of one person. That’s the person who finds out who the judges are, and who won the funds last year. This is the person who finds out about the history of the award/grant.

4. There is no point having a ’standard’ response. The same question may be asked in every application: ‘What is the main feature of your museum/gallery?’ But your answer should vary in each application.

5. Adopt an approach to encourage the judges to read your whole application (that’s a must). Make them enjoy it, be convinced by it and have a positive feeling about your organisation, that it is ’special’?

What makes your place important to your members and locals may not have the same impact on those judging applications from all over Australia. They may not have heard of your community or know where it is. So ensure they provide that information in a subtle way.

Sell but don’t oversell your museum/gallery. The judges are probably good at detecting any outlandish claims.

6. You never really know how much attention is given to all the attachments that may be requested. Assume they are all read word for word. You need to ensure that the attachments do not contradict what is claimed in the application itself.

7. Ensure all those involved in using the grant money are supportive of the application. It is not good to win the grant and then have no enthusiasm for the funded project.

8. Keep good records of the material you collect to write a grant – from the figures of visitor numbers to the support letter from your local MP.

9. Make some preliminary arrangements to have press releases and interviews with the local paper and radio/TV people when the winning bids are announced. Have an announcement prepared in draft ready for release. (This is both presumptious and cheeky but helpful!)

10. If you don’t win this time, find out who did and ask them for a copy of their application. Even if you don’t win, make losing a learning experience.

For more advice on how to apply for grants, email Barrie Brennan

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“What it was like watching Slim Dusty sing live?” and other stories …

Congratulations to the four CAN Partners for winning an MP3 player. More than 300 people filled out the CAN Outreach survey. Thank you to all of those people who supported CAN Outreach and provided valuable feedback.

The prizewinners have been given the choice of an MP3 player that plays video and a device that just records. Those who have chosen the recording function will be able to make podcasts and audio slideshows. Hopefully the prizewinners will upload stories to the CAN Outreach Blog so we can fully appreciate the tremendous value of regional collections.



Karlie Hawking
Community Museums Project Officer, Department of Planning and Community Development, Ballarat, Victoria
Karlie is the community museums project officer for Ballarat’s Planning and Commuity Development Department. She works with community institutions, like the Creswick Museum, in helping them preserve and interpret the town’s history. The Museum identified Jack Sewell’s wealth of knowledge as one of their most valuable assets and so Karlie is helping them capture his story.

Jack Sewell is one of Creswick’s treasures. He is a local historian who takes bus tours around the district – telling stories about the Australasian Mine Disaster and the characters involved. No-one else has the depth of knowledge he has of the township. It is Karlie Hawking’s job to help the Creswick Museum, document his experiences for the preservation of the community. As part of the interpretation plan she is working on with the community, she is building podcasts that can be downloaded onto iPods and mobile phones. That way the bus tours with Jack’s voice can be heard forever.

The Community Museums Pilot Program is a joint initiative between Department of Planning and Community Development and Arts Victoria. For more information about the Community Museums Pilot Program, email Karlie.


Wendy Birrell
Manager, Discover Eumundi Heritage & Visitor Centre, Sunshine Coast. Queensland
Body art carnivales are a far cry from the social history collection of first settler families the Eumundi Museum is famous for. Museum manager Wendy Birrell believes reflecting contemporary society will ensure the gallery stays relevant to its community. Wendy organised for the Australian Body Art Carnivale to be recorded, made into a DVD and posted on YouTube. Along with interviews collected during the festival, she sourced material from the local newspapers, professional cameramen and photographer’s work and even took her own camera onto the streets. ‘We covered the carnivale strongly because we want to focus on yesterday’s history,’ Wendy said.

Eumundi has famously focused on the first settler families in south-east Queensland. It set itself up as an information centre for genealogists and researchers – promoting its collection of 3000 photographs. The excellent quality of images can be attributed to the keen amateur photographers who lived in the area between 1890 and the 1940s. While Eumundi is one of the smallest museums on the Sunshine Coast, it is one of the most visited. Wendy intends to maintain the growth in visitor numbers by keeping the museum contemporary.

Email Wendy if you would like to discuss how small museums can stay relevant to their community.


Fiona Graham
Secretary, Scout Heritage Centre of Western Australia
As the Scout Heritage Centre of Western Australia catalogues its wonderful paraphenalia associated with boys-own adventures, it receive more donations. This involves provenance checks of beautifully handwritten logbooks with cartoons drawn in pen. Accessioning the newly designed scarf that represents another scout group that was recently set up in WA. Keeping up with history is secretary Fiona Graham’s main priority and she desperately needs the support of experienced volunteers. ‘People are forever donating historical artefacts. We are trying to record scout life as it happens but we are just catching up on the past,’ Fiona said.

The heritage centre does promote its collection through displays at libraries, councils and most recently at the Fremantle Arts Centre. Like many organisations across Australia, it has not had the resources to invest in technology. They need to upgrade old software, buy new computers and digitise photographs. In the meantime the MP3 player they won will be the perfect device to record oral histories of those people who drew the cartoons in the logbook.

Email Fiona to volunteer or support the Scout Heritage Centre of WA.


Barrie Brennan
Board member and volunteer, Australian Country Music Foundation, Tamworth, NSW
Country music fans often come into Tamworth’s Australian Country Music Foundation offering their memorabilia and photographs. The NSW foundation has had to teach the country music community how to be collectors and how to care for their own objects as there is too much material to be ingested into their collection. They have also started collecting oral histories from country music fans. So the MP3 player Barrie Brennan won on behalf of the organisation for being the 50th person to fill out the CAN Outreach survey, will be the ideal device to collect these visitor stories.

‘We see our role in encouraging people. Helping other people collect and save. We are trying to use our own museum staff and visitors to be a resource. We have this incredible network of people who have these links,’ Barrie said. ‘We ask them to share their story about the first Buddy Williams concert. What it was like watching Slim Dusty sing live.’

The country music foundation’s next major project is to digitise their photography collection. They hope there will be the potential to have access to major collections of photographs as part of that deal, such as Fairfax Media’s collection of country music photographs from The Northern Daily Leader. The foundation is relying on their current Community Heritage Grant submission to fund this proposal. They are optimistic as they have been awarded a CHG for significance and conservation in the past. Not bad for a 100% volunteer-run organisation.

Email Barrie if you would like to know how the Community Heritage Grants benefit the Australian Country Music Foundation.

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How to allow CAN to OpenSearch an online collection using an RSS feed

If your collection is set up to be searched on your own website, it can just take one day of coding to prepare for it to be searched from CAN.  Making a collection searchable using OpenSearch has the potential to broaden your exposure significantly when your collection is being searched on an national collection database. The following instructions on how to build an RSS feed can also be downloaded from Sector Resources.

Making an RSS feed that will hook into CAN is very easy to provide if you have a search already working on your website. All that is necessary is the duplication of the page that performs the search on the website and adjusting it so that rather than providing the output of the search results wrapped in HTML the output of the results wraps them in XML instead.



It may be helpful to examine the XML of the feed that the Powerhouse Museum sends to CAN – this is visible here:

http://www.powerhousemuseum.com/collection/database/opensearch/search.php?s=chair&start=1

Where ‘chair’ is the search term and the start = 1 parameter is the page number (currently set to send 50 at a time, I think). If you do this in Firefox and view the source you can see the structuring of the result set we would be expecting at the CAN end.

Basically each result set has an item with a: “title”, “description”, “link”, and unique “guid” (which are actually the same in the Powerhouse Museum’s case) and then we use an “enclosure” tag to send a thumbnail link (URL).

And that’s it – pretty easy – most people have been able to spend only a day or two getting it going provided they already have a working search.

If CAN Partners are interested in providing more than the four basic pieces of data (title/description/link/unique GUID) + enclosure tag (link to thumbnail) CAN is more than happy to accommodate that data. For example, PictureAustralia has “categories” and “rights” data, and the State Records of NSW has “series” and “agency” data. Ideally CAN is supplied with a list of other metadata tags by the CAN Partner to extend the standard use of OpenSearch. As long as that extra data is supplied in standard XML in the RSS feed, CAN will look incorporating it in its OpenSearch.

Email us if you need any more information.

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